From The “Things That Will Never Happen” Dept. : Considering The Montreal Expos of the AL East

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace, Ugly New Stadiums at 7:18 pm by

On Thursday, Major League Baseball’s impatience with Tampa Bay’s stadium situation was noted in this space and many others, with the Commissioner’s Office’s stern words causing TSN’s Scott Ferguson to fantasize, “A winning Tampa team could move to Montreal and slide right into the American League East as a tremendous rival for the Blue Jays (“with a new baseball-first stadium and committed ownership, the new Expos might have a chance.”)

In their 36-year history, Montreal had a peak attendance of just over 2.3 million in 1983. They had a five-year glory run where they were one of the top teams in baseball where they drew over two million in four of those five seasons. It would have been all five if not for the strike-shortened 1981 campaign. The point being there were numerous other years where the attendance figures were every bit as bad as the Rays, if not worse at times.

Part of the problem was playing in relatively small Jarry Park, and then moving to an oversized, out of the way, less intimate Big “O”. The fans in Montreal were more boisterous and emotional than most I’ve seen in the Majors. They just seemed to grow weary of the ownership circus and not having a proper baseball facility.

If the Commissioner is making a veiled threat to move the Rays, then here’s hoping Montreal becomes the target city.

Possibly The First Time Stu Bickel’s Been Compared To Lena Dunham

Posted in Blogged Down, Hockey, Sports Journalism at 3:22 pm by

“News of the NHL lockout’s end caused as much excitement in the male world as a 70 percent off sale does in a woman’s. If you’re completely oblivious what the end of the lockout means, think of it as the premiere of the newest season of “Girls” being delayed for months, and then suddenly it’s announced that it will be coming back but with a lot fewer episodes to make up for lost time.”

I know you’re thinking the above passage was composed by Stan Fischler or Larry Brooks, but no dice. Instead, it’s an excerpt from Blueshirts United’s “A Girl’s Guide To Watching The Rangers” by Mirna Mandi, and since removed by the NY Rangers official site. CBS NY’s Chris Peters details some of the fallout ;

Among the tips, “You need to sense the tension at certain points in the game and let [the men] do their jumping, screaming and cheering thing. You can tell if something huge has happened by their reaction, and if you’re absolutely lost, wait for the replay. There’s always a replay after a major play.”

The article also suggests learning a few names of the players by looking up the roster on the Rangers website, the importance of getting to know noted handsome gentleman and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, and reassuring the reader that it’s all right to ask the man questions.

It took Twitter all of about two seconds to unleash the fury. The article itself had more than 40 comments — mostly negative — within minutes. Less than an hour later, the post was wiped from the Internet. The Rangers’ tweet directing people to the story was also deleted.

TNT’s Kenny Smith – Critic Of Male Grooming, Potential Awful Announcing Guest Columnist

Posted in Basketball, Fashion at 3:03 pm by

Smith’s hilarious evisceration of Charles Barkley’s commentary aside (“I’ve been listening to this dude all night talking crazy and reckless to America…all I’m saying is Vegas.The man lives in Vegas”), Deadspin accuses TNT’s NBA halftime yucksters of “transparent gay baiting”. Said charge is not nearly as stunning as the fact the entire waxing kerfuffle was initiated by Reggie Miller.


Arizona Just Overpaid For Martin Prado

Posted in Baseball at 11:13 pm by

Either the Arizona Diamondbacks have decided RF Justin Upton’s skills will diminish awfully fast for a position player with a mere 6 professional seasons under his belt, or in the words of Beyond The Box Score’s Spencer Schneier, “the Diamondbacks must know something about Upton that the general public does not.”  On Thursday morning, the D-Backs sent RF Upton to the Braves in exchange for IF Martin Prado and P Randall Delgado, and while the Arizona Republic’s Dan Bickley suggests Snakes GM Kevin Towers “will be questioned forever” if the pairing of Justin and B.J. Upton pays dividends in Atlanta, Schneier is ready to commence the questioning right now.

Justin Upton is 25 years old, making $38.5 million over the next three seasons, and has been worth 17.1 fWAR in his career. If Upton follows anything resembling the normal aging curve, then he will be one of the best players in baseball over the next three seasons, while making a shade under $13 million on average.

What sells this deal as a landslide for the Braves is that Upton is probably a better player than Martin Prado, but he is also controlled for three seasons as opposed to the one season that Prado is signed for. As fellow BtBer Matt Hunter pointed out to me, this gives Arizona a better chance to resign Prado, but I disagree because we cannot factor this into the deal because we just do not know.

To put it very literally, Arizona traded three years of a 25-year old with a good chance to post at least 3-4 fWAR per year, for one year of a 29-year old who will probably be in the 3-4 win range and the potential to add a draft pick and the slot-money that would come with that pick (as well as Delgado and other minor prospects). This is all without considering Upton’s sizeable upside, with a chance to provide a good amount of excess value of the course of this deal.

Bud Selig Confirms That 29 Of His Bosses Are A Bit Fed Up With Tampa

Posted in Baseball, The Marketplace at 8:35 pm by

Or more to the point, there’s no shortage of frustration amongst baseball’s higher payroll clubs that they continue to contribute to the Rays’ meager payroll (and regular season success) via the luxury tax. With contests at Tropicana Field played in relative privacy, there seems little chance the Rays will increase payroll substantially on their own volition, a situation that led venue-challenged owner Stuart Steinberg to declare Thursday, “Major League Baseball no longer believes in the Tampa Bay area”. Almost on cue, MLB issued the following press release, which could well be titled, “You’re Fucking Right We Don’t”

“The Commissioner has had conversations with Stuart Sternberg and is disappointed with the current situation in the Tampa Bay market. The status quo is simply not sustainable. The Rays have been a model organization, averaging nearly 92 wins per year since 2008 and participating in the postseason three times, including their inaugural World Series in 2008. Their .565 winning percentage over the last five years is second among all American League clubs and third in all of Major League Baseball. Last year, the 30 Major League clubs averaged nearly 2.5 million in total attendance; the Rays, who finished with a 90-72 record, drew 1,559,681, which ranked last in the game. The club is an eager contributor to worthy causes in the Tampa and St. Petersburg communities and takes pride in meeting the social responsibilities that come with being a Major League franchise. We are hopeful that the market will respond in kind to a club that has done a marvelous job on and off the field.”

The Real Reason Behind Mariotti’s Sun-Times Departure : They Weren’t Web Savvy Enough!

Posted in Sports Journalism at 1:57 pm by

Former Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti has been “staying sharp as a writer” (his words) with selected posts for ChicagoSide, who coincidentally just signed a content agreement with his former employer. If you’re wondering if this means a Mariotti return to the Sun-Times in any capacity, Jay assures the Sherman Report’s Ed Sherman that is absolutely not the case.

The Sun-Times, when I worked there, was a politically conflicted disgrace of a newspaper. The bosses cut deals and curried favor with people I had to cover as a Chicago sports columnist. They also failed to improve the Web site, a promise they made when I signed a contract extension in July 2008. I resigned in a cordial letter to the publisher two months later, after returning from the Beijing Olympics, and I handed back almost $1 million in wages. I don’t miss the place a bit.


Q : When Is It OK For Chelsea F.C. To Physically Assault A Child?

Posted in Football, Leave No Child Unbeaten at 8:14 pm by

A : when he’s a time-wasting, attention-hungry little twerp who acts like being kicked repeatedly in the ribs is some kind of big deal. The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield on Chelsea’s classy reaction following their League Cup semi-final exit at Swansea :

“They have apologised to each other,” said Rafael Benítez, Chelsea’s interim manager. “They knew they were both wrong. He was wasting time. (Eden) Hazard wanted to get the ball back quickly and he was kicking. They both made mistakes. They both accept they were wrong, and we can’t change things. We will deal with this internally. He was frustrated and just wanted to get the ball back, but we will analyse it and see what happens.”

“Do you think we are not disappointed with the situation, that we don’t regret what’s happened? They apologised. You cannot change things. We cannot. They both made a mistake. The player spoke with the boy and said sorry because there was a mistake. Listen to me: as Chelsea FC, we know it was a mistake, we talk with the boy, we talk with the player. The boy was there with us in the dressing room. Everyone was very clear.” Morgan has worked as a ballboy at Swansea for six years and had claimed on his Twitter account before kick-off that this would be his final appearance in the role as he stepped in for a colleague.

He had even boasted he would be stationed behind the home goal and was “needed for time-wasting”. The teenager had 11,000 followers at the final whistle, with that number swelling to 40,000 an hour after the end of the game. Chelsea’s official Twitter feed had initially suggested the red card was unjustified. “Has football gone mad?” they wrote. “Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ballboy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it.” They later apologised for that tweet.